Fans and friends are virtually embracing longtime Hallmark star Nikki DeLoach, after she paid tribute to her dad, David DeLoach, with a heartbreaking post on the second anniversary of his death at age 66. The actress and screenwriter has been open about her grief journey after losing her dad in 2021 to Pick’s disease, a form of frontotemporal dementia, and has channeled some of her heartache into becoming a vocal advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association and incorporating grief stories into her work as a writer and actress.
On July 27, 2023, DeLoach shared an emotionally raw Instagram post about her dad, who “was a logger and drove 18-wheelers” for his family’s timber and trucking business, she told Guideposts in 2021, and about her continuing dance with grief.
“Two years, 13 hours, 29 minutes,” DeLoach began her post, which included a photo of her with her dad, smiling. “Yes, I’ve counted the days, hours and minutes since I last held you. I hate (and I use that word very sparingly) being in a world without you. But I do. I hate it. And also, I’m fighting to move forward and celebrate life and to honor you in all I do. In the way I parent. In the way I love others. In acts of service. In animals and nature. In music. In dancing. And in my grief.”
DeLoach wrote about sensing that her dad is still with her, especially when she pays close attention.
She shared, “I’m trying hard to listen, because I know you are with me all the time. I can feel you, hear you. Thank you for the feathers. Thank you for protecting my family, just as you did here on earth. Thank you for guiding me in all I do.”
Friends & Fans Respond to Nikki DeLoach’s Emotional Tribute to Her Dad
DeLoach’s poignant tribute touched many fans and friends who left encouraging and grateful comments on her post.
DeLoach responded, “Thank you so much, my dear dear friend. Love you 💜”
Another Hallmark colleague, Michael Rady, wrote, “❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ big hugs to you friend.”
DeLoach’s screenwriting partner, Megan McNulty, commented, “Beautiful my partner. Every syllable. Your Northstar forever and ever, Amen. Finding the feathers and praying with you and for you. I love you❤️”
DeLoach also took the time to respond to many fans who wrote of their own losses or sent encouraging words.
One woman wrote, “It’s so hard. I immediately teared up reading this since I lost my dad around the same time and even though your words describe the absolute pain, I know the words aren’t even close to enough for someone who hasn’t lost a parent.”
DeLoach responded, ” I am so sorry you lost your dad too. The hurt is so deep. Sending you so much love ❤️🩹”
When another fan wrote, “You have your daddies smile❤️,” Deloach replied, “Best compliment ❤️.”
DeLoach posted additional photos of her dad in her Instagram Stories, as well as a video of her friend and bestselling author Kate Bowler interviewing supermodel Paulina Porizkova about the grief of losing her husband, Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek in 2019 and how much she relied on friends who were willing to just be present with her.
Alongside the reel, DeLoach wrote, “Thank you to every beloved who has been a steady presence in my grief. Sitting nearby and saying, ‘I see your pain and I’m here.’ I love you all so much. ❤️🩹”
Nikki DeLoach Felt ‘Stuck’ in Grief Before Filming ‘The Gift of Peace’
Last December, DeLoach revealed that filming the Hallmark movie “The Gift of Peace” a year after her dad’s death was an unexpectedly healing experience, not only for her but also for her castmates, including co-star Brennan Elliott. In the 2022 movie, DeLoach plays an artist named Traci who was a once-devout Christian but stopped believing in God ad lost her creative spark after her husband tragically died, but finds a sense of peace as she gets to know the people in a grief support group.
During an interview with KRON’s “Live in the Bay”, DeLoach said that as the circle of five actors connected on set and worked through the heavy subject matter of the film, they found themselves processing and healing some of their own personal grief together. In addition to still reeling over her dad’s death, she said, Elliott was dealing with the “anticipatory grief” of his wife’s ongoing cancer battle and future health hurdles, and another member of the group had just lost their stepfather weeks prior to shooting the film.
“We were all really in it together,” DeLoach said. “And what I learned through that is that I finally began to start processing. We would all, even between takes, start sharing our stories with each other of our loved ones.”
“And something opened up,” she continued. “Something lightened up inside of me. I began to find some joy again. I began to laugh, I began to start celebrating life again. Like, little by little, I just started inching forward. And we all found that together. So it was just such a beautiful experience of us all being brought together to do this movie, but we were all transformed at the end of it on a very personal level.”
Elliott also found the experience to be profound, and revealed to TV Fanatic that he was scared to take on the role at first, saying that his first reaction to reading the script was, “I don’t want to do this. It scares the life out of me.”
“I knew what it was like to lose someone and to be in grief,” he continued. “I know what it’s like even to be faced with the fear of anticipatory grief. Obviously, as a caregiver for my wife’s illness, it hit home in some ways that scared me. But at the same time, those are the ones you want to do.”